Points You’ll Takeaway –
1. Asprey claims to have science backing up the benefits and advantages of his diet however the citations he quotes are cherry-picked and bad studies. Most of which are very old and carried out on rats which aren’t relevant to humans.
2. Alarm bells should always go off any time someone claims that you should buy their expensive diet/plan/workout/products to reach your goals, especially when they promise miracles.
3. Chemicals and toxins are present everywhere into days food and drink at very low dosages, so it very hard to avoid them.
4. As with any FAD, proceed with caution, be skeptic and ask questions. In my opinion don’t buy into this uncontrolled calorie ‘Bulletproof diet,’ ruin your coffee, and waste your money on fat filled coffee, expecting to become a super hero.
The Bulletproof® Diet was founded by Dave Asprey and is apparently the foundation for a ‘bulletproof mind and body,’ what ever that means. It’s referring to the Terminator or Robocop I think. It’s apparently also one of the most important things you can do to increase your performance across the board. The diet comprises of 50-60% of calories from healthy fats, 20% from protein, and the rest from vegetables, labelling certain foods as ‘good’ and ‘bad.’
A recent repot though in The Daily Telegraph that is diet is filled with false claims and no scientific evidence. With the exception of the agreeing with Robert Lustig, this is a very good article explaining the fallacies of the diet.
According to Dave Asprey, he claims his ‘scientific’ high-fat diet and the calorie laden butter and medium chained triglyceride ‘Bulletproof Coffee,’ will enhance your body and boost your brain function,“melt body fat and increase muscle mass.” He says he lost 45kg eating a high-fat diet, and claims he now eats more than 4,000 calories day and does no exercise. He claims calorie restriction leads to energy storage but that “by eating more fat, you tell your body it’s OK to burn fat.”
First things first there is no scientific explanation for how people could lose weight on a uncontrolled high calorie diet with little exercise. Asprey claims to have science backing up the benefits and advantages of his diet however the citations he quotes are cherry-picked and bad studies. Most of which are very old and carried out on rats which aren’t relevant to humans.
The Telegraph wrote;
‘The one about cereal grains, for example, begins with a quote from the Bible and is written by a man called Loren Cordain, otherwise known as the author of The Paleo Diet, a health plan that involves eating only foods that were available to humans during the Paleolithic (or caveman) era, and has been widely discredited.
Another paper — “Switching from refined grains to whole grains causes zinc deficiency” — is a report of a 1976 research project featuring a study group of just two people. A third study – “Diets high in grain fibre deplete vitamin D stores” – is a 30 year-old study of 13 people.
A fourth – “Phytic acid from whole grains block zinc and other minerals” – is based on a 1971 study of people in rural Iran eating unleavened flatbread. Another is about insulin sensitivity in domestic pigs.
In other words, the research upon which the Bulletproof Diet stands is not exactly cutting-edge.’
But rather than writing about the diet, I want to focus on the coffee.
Alarm bells should always go off any time someone claims that you should buy their expensive diet/plan/workout/products to reach your goals, especially when they promise miracles. Drinking a coffee, every day, mixed with butter and coconut oil puts serious amounts of extra calories into your diet, approx 400-600 cals, if you are not controlling them.
Here’s the recipe:
•2 cups (500 ml) of black Upgraded™ Coffee
•2 tbsp of unsalted grass-fed butter
•2 tbsp of MCT oil
•Blend until the oil emulsifies and it looks like a latte
Wonder what it tastes like? Check out this video when people on the streets of London were allowed to have a taste – http://www.telegraph.co.uk/foodanddrink/11299562/Should-you-swap-the-milk-in-your-coffee-for-a-knob-of-butter.html
So will this benefit you weight loss goals?
Asprey claims he is living proof that it works, and claims that mycotoxins, present in everyday coffee, is the main risk factor and this is why his ‘bullet proof coffee’ is best, which costs $20 per 12 oz. Mycotoxins are toxic moulds that can grow in coffee beans, and produce toxic chemicals called mycotoxins. (1)
So is there cause for alarm?
Chemicals and toxins are present everywhere into days food and drink at very low dosages, so it very hard to avoid them. I can understand certain people not wanting to consume large amounts of chemicals, but we are constantly drinking, eating and breathing chemicals and are you still alive? We need to remember the dose makes the poison!
Studies have looked at the toxin content of coffee and found there to be traces of mycotoxins present, but they are so small they are well below any level of toxicity. (2,3,4,5) The most prevalent toxins in coffee are called aflatoxin and orchratoix. The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations set the provisional tolerable weekly intake of ochratoxin at 100 ng/kg/week. (6) So a 90kg person would have a safe limit of 9000 ng/week. That equates to 250 cups of coffee per day…(7) If coffee was so toxic with mycotoxins, we would see a link between disease and regular coffee consumers. Which definitely isn’t seen in the ‘Blue Zones,’ concept used to identify geographic areas of the world where people live measurably longer lives, where coffee is regularly consumed.
The advised protocol for drinking ‘Bulletproof coffee’ is to swap your breakfast for the drink. Not always, but doing this would result in you significantly reducing certain macronutrients, vitamins, minerals, fibre, water etc etc in your diet.
What about all that fat?
Even though there is no significant association between the intake of saturated fat and the risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke. (8) This doesn’t mean that consuming copious amounts saturated fat is entirely harmless and should be consumed in a coffee in my opinion. Certain studies have shown when people increase their intake of saturated fat, their cholesterol levels go up drastically (9) and also not all saturated fat has been shown that not all saturated fats are equal. (19) So this is something to bare in mind.
There are loads of people sipping their ‘Bulletproof coffee’ every morning and feeling energised and fresh, so if you find that ‘Bulletproof Coffee’ improves your health and wellbeing then it may be for you, as everyone is different. But to claim it torches fat, without mentioning controlling calories, and everyone should be drinking this is ridiculous. Therefore if you do drink ‘Bulletproof Coffee’ then you need to make sure the rest of your days nutrition is on track in order to consume adequate nutrients.
For the record, I’m a big fan of coffee, it is very healthy as it is loaded with antioxidants and beneficial nutrients that can improve your health. Benefits range from –
1. Coffee can improve energy levels (10)
2. The caffeine can drastically improve physical performance (11-13)
3. There are essential nutrients in coffee (14)
4. Coffee can fight depression (15)
5. Coffee is a source of antioxidants (16)
6. CAN aid with fat loss (17-18)
As with any FAD, proceed with caution, be skeptic and ask questions. In my opinion don’t buy into this uncontrolled calorie ‘Bulletproof diet,’ ruin your coffee, and waste your money on fat filled coffee, expecting to become a super hero. Our overall diet and all the foods we eat influences our health, not any single drink or type of nutrient on its own.
1. J. W. Bennett1,* and M. Klich. Mycotoxins. Clin Microbiol Rev. Jul 2003; 16(3): 497–516.
2. Prelle A, Spadaro D, Denca A, Garibaldi A, Gullino ML. Comparison of clean-up methods for ochratoxin A on wine, beer, roasted coffee and chili commercialized in Italy. Toxins (Basel). 2013 Oct 22;5(10):1827-44.
3. K. M. Soliman. Incidence, Level, and Behavior of Aflatoxins during Coffee Bean Roasting and Decaffeination. Food Toxicology and Contaminants Department, National Research Center, Dokki, Cairo, Egypt. J. Agric. Food Chem., 2002, 50 (25), pp 7477–7481.
4. Studer-Rohr I1, Dietrich DR, Schlatter J, Schlatter C. The occurrence of ochratoxin A in coffee. Food Chem Toxicol. 1995 May;33(5):341-55.
5. Martins ML, Martins HM, Gimeno A. Incidence of microflora and of ochratoxin A in green coffee beans (Coffea arabica). Food Addit Contam. 2003 Dec;20(12):1127-31.
6. Walker R. Risk assessment of ochratoxin: current views of the European Scientific Committee on Food, the JECFA and the Codex Committee on Food Additives and Contaminants. Adv Exp Med Biol. 2002;504:249-55.
9. Singh A, Milne V, Underberg J. Rise in Serum Lipids After Dietary Incorporation of Coconut Fats. J Clin Lipid. 2013;7(3): 267.
10. I. Hindmarch, U. Rigney, N. Stanley, P. Quinlan, J. Rycroft, J. Lane. A naturalistic investigation of the effects of day-long consumption of tea, coffee and water on alertness, sleep onset and sleep quality. Psychopharmacology. April 2000, Volume 149, Issue 3, pp 203-216.
11. Anderson DE1, Hickey MS. Effects of caffeine on the metabolic and catecholamine responses to exercise in 5 and 28 degrees C. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1994 Apr;26(4):453-8.
12. Doherty M1, Smith PM. Effects of caffeine ingestion on exercise testing: a meta-analysis. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2004 Dec;14(6):626-46.
13. Duncan MJ1, Clarke ND, Tallis J, Guimarães-Ferreira L, Leddington Wright S. The effect of caffeine ingestion on functional performance in older adults.J Nutr Health Aging. 2014;18(10):883-7.
15. Michel Lucas, PhD, RD; Fariba Mirzaei, MD, MPH, ScD; An Pan, PhD; Olivia I. Okereke, MD, SM; Walter C. Willett, MD, DrPH; Éilis J. O’Reilly, ScD; Karestan Koenen, PhD; Alberto Ascherio, MD, DrPH. Coffee, Caffeine, and Risk of Depression Among Women. Arch Intern Med. 2011;171(17):1571-1578.
16. Jennifer Stella Bonita, Michael Mandarano, Donna Shuta, Joe Vinson,. Coffee and cardiovascular disease: In vitro, cellular, animal, and human studies. Pharmacological Research. Volume 55, Issue 3, March 2007, Pages 187–198
17. D. Bracco , J. M. Ferrarra , M. J. Arnaud , E. Jequier , Y. Schutz. Effects of caffeine on energy metabolism, heart rate, and methylxanthine metabolism in lean and obese women. American Journal of Physiology – Endocrinology and MetabolismPublished 1 October 1995Vol. 269no. 4, E671-E678.
18. Tae-Wook Kim, Young-Oh Shin, Jeong-Beom Lee, Young-Ki Min, Hun-Mo Yang . Effect of caffeine on the metabolic responses of lipolysis and activated sweat gland density in human during physical activity. Food Science and Biotechnology. August 2010, Volume 19, Issue 4, pp 1077-1081
19. de Oliveira Otto MC1, Mozaffarian D, Kromhout D, Bertoni AG, Sibley CT, Jacobs DR Jr, Nettleton JA. Dietary intake of saturated fat by food source and incident cardiovascular disease: the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis. Am J Clin Nutr. 2012 Aug;96(2):397-404.